Vast quantities of translucent, elegantly decorated white-bodied porcelain from China and Japan, arriving in Europe in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, heightened Europeans’ fervor for these wondrous wares. In royal palaces, great houses of the aristocracy, and homes of the rising merchant class made wealthy by trade, specially designed rooms showcased porcelain from floor to ceiling as crowning jewels in an integrated architectural and decorative scheme.
Brimming with more than one thousand magnificent European and Asian pieces from SAM's collection, the Porcelain Room has been conceived to blend visual excitement with an historical concept. Rather than the standard museum installation arranged by nationality, manufactory, and date, our porcelain is grouped by color and theme. Today, when porcelain is everywhere in our daily lives, this room evokes a time when it was a treasured trade commodity—sometimes rivaling the value of gold—that served as a cultural, technological, and artistic interchange between the East and the West.
Some of the works on view in the Porcelain Room date back to the 17th century, but this beloved gallery at SAM has stepped into the 21st century with new digital kiosks located at both entrances of the Porcelain Room. Use the interactive experience to gain a brief history of porcelain, zoom in on each of the artworks for a closer look, and read caption information, including the type of object, date, and origin.